Brighton vs Chelsea : 3 things to look out for

Nottingham Forest v Chelsea FC - Premier League
Nottingham Forest v Chelsea FC - Premier League / Michael Regan/GettyImages

As the Premier League season approaches its thrilling conclusion, Chelsea is set to face Brighton in a critical penultimate match. Currently positioned seventh in the league standings, Chelsea is neck-and-neck with Newcastle United, trailing only on goal difference.

With momentum in their favor, the Blues are well-prepared to challenge Brighton on their home turf, aiming to secure another victory to bolster their season's record. This upcoming clash promises not just excitement but potentially pivotal shifts in the final league table placements.

Here are three things to look forward to.

1. How does Mauricio Pochettino make use of players returning from injuries?

Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino / Copa/GettyImages

As Chelsea prepares to face Brighton in a crucial late-season fixture, they find themselves in an unusually favorable position regarding player availability. With only four senior players sidelined due to injury, this is Chelsea’s lightest injury list in over two years, presenting a unique opportunity for manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Despite the relatively healthy squad, Pochettino faces intriguing decisions regarding his starting lineup. The core duo of Conor Gallagher and Moises Caicedo in midfield, alongside the dynamic front quartet of Mykhailo Mudryk, Cole Palmer, Noni Madueke, and Nicolas Jackson, have shown promising chemistry. Altering this setup might be a risk, particularly at such a critical juncture of the season.

However, tactical adjustments were evident in their last match against Nottingham Forest, where Chelsea saw the return of veteran Thiago Silva replacing young Alfie Gilchrist, and Trevoh Chalobah filling in as a makeshift right-back. With both Malo Gusto and captain Reece James now available, Pochettino might consider rotating them.

Such a move could provide valuable game time to both players without exhausting them, which is vital given the physical demands of their positions. Moreover, introducing either Gusto or James could significantly bolster Chelsea's defense, which showed vulnerabilities in the previous game, conceding twice to a relegation-threatened Forest team.

This strategic deployment and management of the squad will be critical not only for securing a win against Brighton but also for maintaining momentum as the season concludes. Pochettino’s choices in managing his lineup and substitutions could well be the key to Chelsea’s success in these final games.

2. More records are in sight for Cole Palmer

Cole Palmer
Cole Palmer / Copa/GettyImages

At Chelsea's recent awards night, Cole Palmer solidified his status as a standout talent, being honored with both the Players' Player of the Year and Fan Player of the Year awards. His exceptional performance this season extends beyond club recognition, as he is a formidable contender for the Premier League's Young Player of the Year and Player of the Year awards.

Palmer's impressive statistics underscore his pivotal role for Chelsea. With 21 goals, he trails only behind the phenomenal Erling Haaland in the league scoring charts, and his 10 assists place him just behind Ollie Watkins, making him a dual threat on the field. His recent accolades include being named the Premier League Player of the Month and winning the Goal of the Month, further highlighting his exceptional form and impact.

A former Manchester City player, Palmer's transition to Chelsea has been nothing short of spectacular, establishing him as one of the premier talents in global football. With the European Championships on the horizon this summer, Palmer is undoubtedly eager to maintain his outstanding form. His continued excellence not only boosts Chelsea’s prospects but also strengthens his case for a significant role on England's national team at the Euros.

3. Chelsea's European ambitions

Throughout the season, Chelsea has encountered multiple opportunities to climb the Premier League table and secure a spot in European competition, despite experiencing a spell of inconsistent form. 

Time and again, just as a victory seemed poised to elevate them towards the upper echelons of the league, critical points were dropped, stymieing their ascent. However, a recent upturn in their performance, coupled with favorable results elsewhere, has placed them in seventh—a position sufficient for qualification to the UEFA Conference League.

Yet, this position remains precarious due to the looming threat from Manchester United, who can jeopardize Chelsea's standing in two significant ways. Firstly, United trails Chelsea by just three points in the league table.

More pressingly, if United triumphs over their city rivals in the upcoming FA Cup final, they would secure a berth in the UEFA Europa League. This outcome would shift the sixth-placed team—currently Newcastle United, who sits just above Chelsea—into the Conference League slot instead.

Chelsea's pathway to confirming their participation in European competition next season is fraught with complications and hinges on several external factors. With Newcastle ahead by a substantial goal difference of 10, Chelsea’s best hope lies in Manchester United or Brentford snatching points from Newcastle in one of their final two matches.

Concurrently, Chelsea must secure victories in their remaining fixtures to capitalize on any potential slip-ups by their rivals. Thus, the conclusion of this Premier League season holds not only high stakes but also significant unpredictability for the Blues.